• Victim relives how incident was almost swept under carpet • No need fighting over what’s unnecessary- Victim’s lawyer • Nigerian Army: Matter now before our directorate • Why we’ve done nothing for victim – Anambra govt
More than one month after the video of her public humiliation by a female military officer Lieutenant Chika Viola Anele went viral, the pains of Ifeyinwa Fidelis, a serving youth corps member, are yet to be assuaged. She is alarmed that the military authorities have not pursued justice for her and mete out necessary punishment to the officer in question, who she claimed was sent on three-month training after the incident that has left her traumatised. With no clear sign that the military would help her get justice, she has vowed to do so through the law courts, INNOCENT DURU reports.
EZEIRUAKU Ifeyinwa Fidelis, a female youth corps member serving in Calabar, Cross River State, has been fear stricken since July 28, 2021 when she was brutalised and dehumanised by a female military officer, Lieutenant Chika Viola Anele.
Her voice quaked with disappointment while her body language evinced suspicion when our correspondent engaged her during the week.
“Me, I don’t trust anybody for now o,” she retorted when our correspondent requested for the contacts of her colleagues who witnessed her public humiliation.
“At a point, I couldn’t sleep. I was always having the feeling that I should have fought with her. How could I kneel down and someone was doing all that to me?
“The thing was disturbing me then. The female officer has not called me till date to apologise.
“At a point, I was getting scared because I was not sure somebody was not after me,” Ifeyinwa said in a comprehensive voice recording of the incident obtained by The Nation.
Contrary to information in the public domain that the video went viral immediately the incident occurred, Ifeyinwa said the incident happened about a month earlier, but when the military authorities were not forthcoming in giving her justice, she had to send it to her brother who subsequently sought the permission of her lawyer to release it online.
“Nothing has happened since then (after reporting to the military authorities). Each time I go to them, they will say they are working on it. After then, she went for a three-week course in Jaji, Kaduna State. I know that once we end our service year, and I am not there again, the case will die,” Ifeyinwa said in the recoding.
I want justice for myself. One day, the commander of the brigade called us and asked to know who sent the video to NYSC. I said I didn’t know. They now asked us to go.
“NYSC didn’t come to check on me. They didn’t even ask to know the corper (youth corps member) they did this to. They only called the commander and I don’t know what they discussed.
“When I didn’t know what to do, I went to get a lawyer. That was when the pressure was now high. They started arranging things. They told the state coordinator that I did this and that.
“The NYSC now called me and they were saying did I write through them before going to get a lawyer? They said why didn’t I tell them what was happening? Even when I was explaining to the state coordinator, I wanted to show him the video but he said that he had seen it.
“They said I should bring down the case. They gave me book and biro and asked me to write that I have withdrawn the case and that I should write formally through them. I left them and went away. I didn’t write anything and didn’t withdraw the case.”
The narrative, according to the victim, took a new dimension “when I got a lawyer. I had to tell one of my brothers that this is what is happening to me in Calabar.
“When I sent the video to him, he was mad. He called the lawyer and asked if he could post the video online and the lawyer said yes. My brother gave the video to different bloggers, making the whole thing to go viral.
“When the thing went viral, NYSC called and said I should go home for my own safety. The next day, they booked a flight for me. Since then, nobody has called me,” she added.
Completely not happy that the military authorities are treating the matter with kid gloves, Ifeyinwa told The Nation that her lawyer was going to file the case in court. “I am suing the lady and the army authorities. I am suing both of them,” she said.
Providing a detailed account of how her dehumanizat ion occurred in the audio recording, she said: “The incident happened on July 28, but the video went viral on September 23. It was after I sent it to my brother that the thing went viral.
“The incident started when the commander of the brigade hosted a drilling competition. I was chosen as part of those who would usher in guests.
“When we got to the place, Ebutu Barracks, I saw one of my captain friends who is a Muslim and married. We played ayo game together. When I saw him, I tapped him and said that he was even there before the ushers. We started laughing only for that lady to shout at me, saying you don’t touch an officer in uniform.
“I went back. When I was standing in my position, another officer – a Lieutenant Colonel came and offered me a handshake, but I said we were told not to shake officers in uniform. The female officer who was behind me said, ‘you can shake but don’t touch’. I didn’t say anything but kept standing.
“She was in charge of the small chops we were to share. They counted the ones they would give to umpires and gave us the rest to share. After sharing it, I went back to my post.
“One Major called me to change it for him. I told him that those ones he was seeing there were for the umpires and that they had already counted them.
“The Major insisted but I didn’t know what to do. We were not trained to challenge an officer in front of guests. I then went back to the female officer for her to know how to settle the issue. But she started insulting me.
“She said I don’t have sense and that was I not there when they said those ones were for the umpires and what did I want her to do.”
Before then, Ifeyinwa said, “she gave me one to keep till whenever we were hungry. She ordered me to go and bring that one and give it to the man since I don’t have sense. So I went and brought it and gave it to the man.
“When the event was over, she called me again and said why was I behaving as if I didn’t have sense- that they said this one was for the umpires but why was I bringing that one to her and what did I want her to do.
“When she insulted me, I was not happy but I didn’t say anything. They always threatened to report acts of indiscipline to the NYSC. The incident happened at my place of primary assignment, (PPA). When she was telling me all this, I never responded.
“I later went to the back of the barracks. I saw a senior officer, Major Ango, who asked why I was angry. I opened up to him and said I didn’t like the way they were talking to us. He was asking me who the person was. I then told him it was Lieutenant Chika Anele.”
“I don’t know what happened between the two other them (Major Ango and Chika). I don’t know what he said to her. On the 28 of July, she called for a meeting and brought me out. She asked the school I graduated from and I told her University of Lagos. She asked for the course I studied and I told her Linguistics. She asked for my GP and I told her.
“She then asked if there is any comparison between a student of Mandona that studied Mass Communication and student of UNILAG that studied Linguistics. Nobody answered her. She then ordered me to go and put on my six over seven- that is my NYSC uniform.
“When I got to my room, I saw that my period just started. She didn’t time me when I left. If they time you and you don’t meet up…..ehen. But she never timed me. When I saw that my period had come, I had to wash off. She then sent a female corper to come and check me.
“When the corper came, she was asking me where I was. I told her that I was bathing and would be coming afterwards. The corper then went and told her that I was bathing. She thereafter came to my room.
“When she came, she saw that I was dressing up. She started shouting that she asked me to go and dress up and I went to bathe. She then ordered the corpers to fetch water. She took me to the back of the barracks where nobody would see her. She called all the corpers to come and then called one boy to do press up.
“She said I should also do press up. I said I no. She said I should roll on the ground with my uniform and I replied that I could not do it. She said I should do frog jump and I said I could not do it. She then said I should be doing frog jump where I was, and I started doing it.”
She further said: “When she saw that it was not paining me, she asked me to kneel down. When I knelt down, she asked them to bring block which I raised above my head. She then said that if I didn’t cry she would not leave me.
“When I got tired, I threw away the stone and told her that I did not kill somebody and didn’t steal and could not carry the stone any longer. She then said my English was quack and that my parents would be happy that they are paying school fees.
“She started insulting me, saying that one string of her hair would buy my life and how much are we collecting as allowee (allowance). They told her it is N33,000. She then multiplied it by 12 months and said ‘N300 and something thousand, and that she cannot touch that kind of money in her life.
“She now asked them to bring sand. She mixed it inside water and started pouring it on my head. She opened my uniform and made sure she poured it all over my body.
“While she was pouring it, she was insulting me. She said I opened my gutter mouth to tell her superior that if not for army uniform that if she sees me outside, would she talk to me.
“When the water she was pouring on my body was itching me, I had to remove my bra. When I removed it, she said this is the cheap bra that I wear and when last did I wash it, calling me a dirty pig. She said after dealing with me today, the next time, I would not open this my mouth to mention her name.
“While she was doing all that, I don’t know who called her. She was happy and told that person that she had done her sand and water thing to me, and that the highest thing I would do was to call my godfather and she would call hers.”
“When they called her on the phone, she now left. When she left, everybody dismissed. I went to somebody that had a phone and told him to take my photogragh. I wanted to have evidence so that if I wanted to report her, I would show them what she did to me. There, if you don’t have evidence, they would not answer you.
“After the guy had snapped me, I went to get water to bathe. After bathing, I started washing my uniform. It was while doing this that they called me that one Captain wanted to see me. She was with the woman when I got there. She was telling the woman how she did her water and sand thing to me.
“The woman was like why did I tell the senior officer that if not that she is in army uniform, if she saw me outside would she talk to me? I told her that I never said so.
“As they were talking, the commander of the brigade now called that he saw a video. They asked me who videoed it and I said I didn’t know. They said the commander wanted to see everybody. Before we went to see the commander, she said the deed had been done.
“When we got to where the commander was, the commander now called me and asked what happened. I explained everything to him. The commander is Brigadier Commander P.P. Mallam. He said he was sorry. He called all the corpers and said we should go, and that he was sorry for all that the female officer did to me.
“When we left, everybody went to their lodge. The female officer didn’t know that when she was doing all that to me, they were recording her.”
Although she has left Calabar, her place of posting, she said she was paid her allowance for last month.
“My passing out date is October 21, 2021. They said they would send everything to me. I don’t know how I will do my clearance,” she told our correspondent.
No need fighting over what’s unnecessary – Victim’s lawyer
When our correspondent reached out to Ifeyinwa’s lawyer, Barrister Eni Okoi, he said: “If you call us next week, we will give you a feedback. NYSC has moved her out of Calabar. They have done something about it. It is because of them she’s there.
“When they became aware of this, they had to move her out of the place. NYSC has not reached out to me, but we have seen their action and it is in good fate. I don’t think there is any need fighting over what is unnecessary.
“The military authorities have not reached out to us at all. By next week, events will start unfolding.”
Spokesperson of the 13th Brigade, Calabar where the incident occurred told The Nation that the issue was more with her.
He said: “We have sent a report already. You have seen a report from my directorate. I don’t know what you are calling and asking me for. I don’t know about the officer going for training. It is no more in my hands. It is in the hands of my director.
“You can call Abuja. You can call my director to confirm. It is not me you will call now.”
The headquarters of the Nigerian Army, in an earlier reaction to the incident, condemned the officer’s actions.
Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, Director Army Public Relations, opined that the officer’s actions had caused the Nigerian Army ‘monumental embarrassment and is highly regrettable’.
Declaring its stand, Army said that it had instituted an investigation and the officer involved had been identified and sanctioned on the interim and would be made to undergo regimental orders (trial) in line with the extant provisions of the Armed Forces Act.
Zonal Inspector of NYSC in Calabar, Tony Odey, swiftly responded: “Sorry, I am not permitted to talk to the press,” when our correspondent sought his comment.
Anambra State Information Commissioner, Mr C Don Adinuba, said he was not aware that Ifeyinwa hails from the state. In a telephone interview with our correspondent, he said: “I must confess that I have been so busy and preoccupied by the election that I didn’t know she is from Anambra. Sorry. Thanks for letting me know.
“You just told me she is from Anambra. The family didn’t get in touch with us. I have an open door policy. I cannot tell you right now. I will try to reach her family and see where we can help.
“Where nobody brought it to our attention and you brought it to our attention, what are we going to do without even discussing with her or her family or her community leaders? You can help me. Where in Anambra is she from? Nobody approached us.”